This week's new Empire Magazine (via StarWarsNewsNet) is a treasure trove of Star Wars: The Force Awakens information. While some of it may enter into spoiler territory for fans trying to stay as pure as possible (you've been warned, if you click that link!), director J.J. Abrams remained ever-carefully guarded, while still eeking out some new information.
The director said that he's looking to the original trilogy for the lightsaber battles' inspiration - not necessarily as slow and plodding as they were there, but in how they "felt more powerful because they were not as slick." The hope is that they're "much more primitive, aggressive, and rougher" in The Force Awakens. He wants it to be "a throwback to the kind of heart-stopping lightsaber fights [he] remembered being so enthralled by as a kid."
For other inspiration, Abrams turned not to the original trilogy, but to what those films were inspired by. He looked at John Ford Westerns for "the confidence," Kurosawa for "unbelievable scene choreography and composition," and "the powerful stillness" of Terrence Malick. George Lucas famously looked at Westerns, Samurai films, and serials for his inspiration when developing the first Star Wars, partially explaining both the "elegant weapon" of the Jedi and the gunslinger style and mentality of characters like Han Solo.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015.